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When will kids be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine?

A young child wearing pink glasses and a purple mask.

Right now only one COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for use in people under 18. That's the Pfizer vaccine. It is OK'd for use in children 16 and older.

But multiple COVID-19 vaccines are in or nearing clinical trials in younger children. Pfizer and Moderna have trials already underway. Johnson & Johnson will start children's trials soon too.

When any of these vaccines will become available to children depends on the results of those trials. But the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says it's possible some children will be able to get vaccinated by the start of the next school year.

How vaccines are tested in kids

Vaccines are usually tested in adults first. If they're shown to be safe for adults, then they can be tested in children in gradually younger age groups. In some cases, children's vaccines may be tested at lower doses than for adults.

Children 7 and older must agree to participate in a clinical trial. Like adult trials, children's trials are broken into three phases. The first phase tests the vaccine in about 20 to 100 volunteers. If all goes well, phase 2 involves testing in several hundred volunteers. Then phase 3 tests the vaccine in hundreds or thousands of volunteers.

Even if the timeline is compressed, a vaccine must pass all three stages. It will get the OK only if it's shown to be safe and effective for kids.

Will schools require COVID-19 vaccinations?

The AAP and others can make recommendations. But whether children will need a vaccine to enroll in school will be up to each state government.

Want to know more? Learn 10 myths and facts about COVID-19 vaccines.

Reviewed 3/24/2021

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